Rio Spey Lines

Video: Choosing The Ideal Spey Line

This short film is a fantastic tool to help anglers choose the ideal Spey line for their specific angling needs. Initially it breaks down the Spey line world into simple to understand categories and guidelines, before going into a detailed and comprehensive explanation of the benefits and assets of each Spey line/head that RIO manufactures.

 

Check out the full line of Rio Products (Including Spey Lines)  by clicking HERE

 

 

Simms Rogue Fleece Hoody

Gear Up For Fall: Simms Rogue Fleece Hoody Review

Simms Rogue Fleece HoodyThe leaves have changed and the temps have dropped which means one thing is certain. Winter will be here in the blink of an eye. Finding the right jacket or pullover for the variance in the ever changing Utah weather landscape can be difficult at best. Having a jacket that is too light and you find yourself freezing, on the flip side a jacket that is too warm can be just as detrimental to your angling opportunities.

The Rogue Fleece Hoody has been in my arsenal since this time last fall and I can say with the utmost confidence that it is a favorite of mine.  Since I picked this jacket up I have used it fishing on many occasions.  This jacket has kept a smile on my face a lot lately. From fall pike fishing in 40-50 degrees to snow flurries where the thermometer barely touches 30 and the pesky ice forms on rod guides..

The reasons I like this jacket are simple. First off this jacket will not break the bank.  It is a nice lightweight piece that is water resistant and it is nice and warm. This is not a piece I would trust if the temps drop even further but overall for this time of year when the weather can be as unpredictable as the fishing I would say with a good base layer this Hoody will stand up to just about anything.

Downsides are few and far between with the Rogue Fleece however the sizing on this piece is pretty hard to decipher. This jacket runs huge and the variances in sizes are quite noticeable.

Pros:

  • Lightweight design with DWR treatment (Durable Waterproof Repellant). The jacket holds up well in light rain and other types of moisture (No taped seams so this jacket is not waterproof by any means)
  • Overall usefulness – Great for all seasons – fall , early winter , spring
  • Hand warmer pockets – Essential for coldweather fishing
  • Zippered chest pocket – good for fly box, keys , snacks…really whatever you please.
  • Makes an excellent layering piece
  • Price tag of $99.95 – One of the greatest values in the Simms lineup.

Cons:

  • Sizing- The sizing on this jacket is a little bit on the larger end.  (Plan on one size smaller than normal.)

 I honestly cannot say enough good things about this piece. It has definitely become a personal favorite as well as a favorite of all the shop staff here at Fishwest.  It is no secret that the staff here have a great deal of respect and admiration for Simms products and it is easy to see why. Simms has outdone itslef this time with the Rogue Fleece.  If you find yourself in need of a jacket for fall / early winter fishing or even just a jacket that is good for a “kick around” jacket certainly consider the Rogue Fleece Hoody.

You can check it out by clicking HERE.

Walleye

Iowa Walleye On The Fly

As summer putters out with the occasional warm day, thoughts of fall fishing is almost constantly on my mind.  In Iowa’s driftless region, fall fishing is one of the best all-around times of the year to fly fish. Warm sun and cool temps give way to some of the most comfortable fishing all year. Cozy layers allow the angler to stay warm, yet adequately move. I relish a day on the stream with a nice cool breeze and warm sun on my back. Lying in the dried grasses near the stream, knowing that the snow that will soon cover the landscape is on the way, is a treat. Even the drive to the stream is a simple pleasure, looking upon the changing colors of the leaves, wildlife, and the farmers harvesting their crop.

Trout fishing can be phenomenal this time of year in the driftless. Baetis hatches are frequent, and nymphing becomes an effective tactic to land big browns as the season wears on and temperatures cool.

While I love to fish for trout in the fall weather, unfortunately my schedule doesn’t always afford me the ability to pick up and go. When pressed for time, I have found some of the best all-around fly fishing can be found within a mile of home. During the fall, Walleye begin their run up our local rivers, and smallmouth are still to be found. These heavy, hard-fighting fish can provide some of the best fight on a fly rod.  Walleye seem to begin to eat as the sun sets in the fall. The fish become aggressively predatory, and much like when a trout takes a fly, the feel of the fight is addictive.  Walleye fishing gives me the chance to cast my 8wt and does a great job getting that fly out there, but when I want to have a little fun, I’ll bring along my 6wt. There’s nothing like wrapping your rod over on a warmwater fish- and walleye can feel like hooking into a unhappy log. Do be careful fishing as the sun sets. Casting a weighted fly requires you take your surroundings into account (as well as yourself-ears, eyes, etc.) Find a spot that affords you and others some safety.

Depending on water conditions, a weighted or sinking leader might be useful to get that fly down into a feeding zone for the fish. You’ll want to try various water depths dependent upon temperature. The end of a pool or a run in the river seem to be practical places to find walleye.  As far as flies, clousers, buggers, and zonkers stripped in at varying speeds can produce some great fish. I’ve found baitfish patterns work best in the river I fish. These are patterns that readily available for purchase and/or are easy to tie.

I use a non-slip mono loop connection for my tippet or leader to fly connection. This simple knot gives the fly a lot of play in the water and is durable as well. You may have to experiment in your own water to determine what strategy works best to hook into your fish. I cast upstream, pause to allow the fly to sink, and then use short strips to give the fly movement as the current swings the fly downstream. I vary this of course, on river conditions and structure.

I feel one of the best aspects of fishing for walleye or smallmouth is the simplicity. For me, it’s a short drive that allows me to be casting in a matter of minutes, which I consider therapy. I can take along minimal gear- a puck of flies, my mitten scissors or nippers, some tippet, and I am fishing.

We all dream of fishing on these beautiful days in fall, though it’s is a very busy time for almost everyone. Next time the fly fishing fever hits this fall, take a quick trip to the river. A short outing can provide an exciting and inexpensive experience.

Sage One Humidor

A Midday Break: Sage One Humidor Review

There’s nothing much more enjoyable than taking a break midday from fishing and smoking decent cigar. All the craziness of life fades into the background as the river continues it’s run downstream through the haze of cigar smoke.

Although there are several different options of transporting your sticks to and from the river, Sage really hit one out of the park with their Sage One Humidor. Here’s what I like about it

1. Protection – The aluminum tube keeps your cigars safe from danger so you can focus on your fly presentation. Also for those that wade a bit deeper, fear not. The screw on lid of the case is lined with a water tight gasket to keep the water out should you take an unsuspecting dip.

2. Plenty of room – The Sage One Humidor has a 2” diameter. Depending on your choice of cigar, you can carry multiple cigars on the water so you can share with a buddy or smoke like a chimney all day long.

3. Humidor – There’s nothing worse than the anticipation of a good cigar only to find a crispy, dry stick instead. The inside of the Sage humidor is lined with cedar and on the lid is a small little humidifier that you can add some distilled water too, so you’re cigars will be kept in that optimum environment.

Bottom line: The Sage One Humidor is an excellent option for the fly fisherman who enjoys a nice cigar on the water.

For more info on the Sage One Humidor please click Here.

 

Sage TXL-F Fly Rod

Gear Review: Sage TXL-F Series Fly Rod

A near perfect lightweight fly rod for delicate presentations on small technical waters.

Sage TXL-F IMageThe Sage TXL-F  is a choice rod for anglers who seek their quarry in small brooks and spring creeks. For years, this ultralight, moderate-fast action rod has been my preferred tool as the bulk of my fishing is done in the overgrown, tiny cold streams that dot the New England landscape and barely appear as a blue line on a map.

A purist in pairing gear that is appropriate to the task at hand, my Sage TXL-F  3WT is outfitted with the Sage Click Series reel and Rio Gold Weight Forward Floating line. I have found this setup to be perfect in balance, weight, and sensitivity whether I am casting through an emerald foliage tunnel or delicately presenting small flies to voracious brook trout. The rod is smoothly accurate and playing fish of all sizes is an absolute pleasure due to its high sensitivity.

While the Sage TXL-F suits my style of fly fishing, it has two primary downsides: versatility and price point. On versatility, the TXL-F is a ‘niche rod’ which is not a viable ‘all around’ option for anglers who strive to own a single rod that will perform equally in all situations (does one really exist?). Those who hit the small water with the TXL-F and attempt to mix-it up between varying sizes of nymphs, streamers, and dries will quickly become frustrated as casting can be difficult and unwieldy to say the least. Across all fly fishing applications the TXL-F generally disappoints.

I am a faithful fan of this rod and highly recommend as the top of the line rod for those whose game is throwing small flies with feather-soft presentations to eager small stream trout. Hit your local fly shop or eBay (see article) and check a new or used Sage TXL-F outfit for yourself!

For further reading on what I think is the quintessential small water outfit:

Visit the Feather and Fin blog for more great content!

Terrain

Charring The Bucket List

(Arctic sushi, arctic trekking, arctic plane reservations, arctic wildlife deterrent, and arctic char…)

The outfitter told me there were lake trout, arctic grayling AND arctic char at one of his camps and that sealed the deal.  Most people don’t get the chance to fish for arctic char in their lifetime and the allure of the exotic was overpowering.  So a few months later my Dad and I landed in Rankin Inlet on the shore of Hudson Bay.

The plan was to be helicoptered from there to a plywood shack in polar bear country on the Nunavut tundra.  However, Hudson Bay is a large body of water and Rankin Inlet is very cool in the summer – this combination leads to a lot of fog.  We actually spent two days in Rankin Inlet waiting for the fog to lift.

The outfitter put us up in his own house. For two days, we walked around town, taking pictures of sled dogs in their kennels and watching the locals bomb along the streets on quads.  We also sampled the local cheeseburgers, which were tasty but worth about $12 each due to the fact that all the ingredients arrived by plane.  And we joined in a family dinner where the appetizer was a traditional Inuit food – raw beluga whale. It had a mild taste and a chewy texture.  Being the rookies in the crowd, Dad and I were given plenty of teriyaki sauce and hot sauce as condiments.

Eventually the fog lifted and a15 minute helicopter ride took us to an area known as Corbett’s Inlet.  Up there, the lake trout stay shallow all summer and they like the rivers as much as any lake.  If you can navigate to the base of some rapids, you are pretty much guaranteed lake trout. (For a closer look at this type of fishing look at my  “Tundra Trout” article elsewhere in this blog.)

The outfitter had pointed out a particularly delectable set of rapids on our map. Being about ten miles from the ocean, these rapids held both lake trout and the sea-run holy grail of this trip – arctic char.  We immediately hopped in the boat and set off.

To get to the rapids, the map said we had to pass through a narrowing of the river; however, this narrowing turned out to be a boiling cauldron of whitewater.  Being self-guided in the middle of nowhere, we turned around and the Arctic char remained unattainable .

That night, by lantern, in the comfort of our plywood shack, we checked the map and noted the rapids were about ten miles away by boat. But they were only 2 miles away by land. In most wilderness on this continent, overland travel means crashing through dense bush with about the same penetrability as a brick wall.

However, we were on the tundra. There would be no bush, only rocks and spongy moss. I think the light bulb went off in Dad’s head first.  “We can walk it,” he said.  Brilliant!

So the next day we set off. In consideration of my Dad’s seventy years, I carried the tackle, the lunch, and the polar bear repellant – a rifle and three shells supplied by the outfitter.

Sidebar #1: Three shells are not a lot of ammunition but, according to our outfitter, if you are about to fire your fourth round, you are likely polar bear hors d’oeuvres anyway.

Sidebar #2: I later find out the rifle was a .308.  I know next to nothing about guns and hunting, but is that enough artillery for large Arctic predators? I still haven’t brought myself to Google it.

The hike to the rapids was just like the map said – we aimed between the two ponds visible from camp and just kept going. It took about an hour and we did not see any polar bears.

I’d like to say that hyper-aggressive char were stacked below the rapids. We fished hard all day and landed two.  They had beautiful, big white spots and were amazingly chunky.  Their heads, in fact, were tiny compared to the rest of their body – a likely testament to the feeding they did in the ocean. They fought strong and deep. We left the rapids satisfied with our catch.

The rest of the trip was typical tundra fishing for lake trout and arctic grayling. The day we were ready to leave, we piled up our gear and waited for the helicopter. And waited. And waited. And then we remembered that the outfitter had given us a satellite phone.  A quick call told us that our helicopter was down for repair and would pick us tomorrow. Another phone call and we had our outbound flights from Rankin Inlet rearranged. That far north, even the largest airlines become quite flexible and accommodating.  We had previously lost a couple days fishing to the fog and just gained one back!  Instead of sitting around waiting for the helicopter, we hopped in the boat and headed for a grayling hotspot.  Thank God for satellite phones…

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The next day, comfortably on board a commercial jet, flying out of Rankin Inlet, all I could think about was our tundra trek to the arctic char.  I kept replaying that day over and over in my mind. And I kept hatching schemes to somehow catch a few more.  I haven’t yet…  But I will….  :)

Not Just Any Old Fly Line: The Scientific Anglers Mastery Textured Trout

Anglers today have a multitude of choices when it comes to choosing a fly line these days.  They are bombarded with terms like AST or 3M Microballons just to name a few. What this means for anglers is that with every passing year manufacturers are pushing the limits in fly line design. They are constantly trying to improve fly line technologies so anglers have better odds at catching more fish. In a nutshell these aren’t your grandpa’s silk fly lines any more.

I have been fishing the Scientific Anglers Mastery Textured Trout Line for a little while now and I thought it would be a good time to share my thoughts on the line. I have to say that I was initially skeptical of the addition to the textured line family based on my previous experiences with the Sharkskin. Too many times did I find myself left with scoured hands from the aggressive texturing used in the Sharkskin family of lines.

Well SA must have got the memo because they have revamped the texture design on the Mastery Textured lines. The newer lines are dimpled like a golf ball instead of having a series of triangular ridges similar to that of a shark’s fin.

In my opinion the taper of this line puts it into the category of a more “all around” trout line.  I have had the opportunity to fish this line on a Scott A4 905.4 as well as the Scott G2 884.4. Since the line has a longer, less aggressive front taper which is almost 30 feet in length it results in an extremely smooth casting fly line.

Now don’t think that this line is just for throwing dry flies to spooky rising fish by any means. Like I said this line is more of an “all around” trout line. I feel that this line excels with smaller flies ranging from 22-12 however it handles anything larger with relative ease. Paired with my A4 this line has seen many a nymph rig as well as a plethora of small streamers as well as larger dry dropper rigs. (It is no secret Utah area waters are full of terrestrial hungry trout in the summertime!)

All and all this line is worth checking out. In a nutshell this line has all the positive characteristics found within the SA Sharkskin lines. The best features of the line are superior shootability from the textured surface as well as a fly line with increased surface area which sits higher on the water which allows for an easier mend.

Pros:

  • SA/ID Feature: The guys at SA decided to code all the lines with the taper and weight of each line for easy identification
  • Replicated Texture: I can’t say this enough the texture on these lines is awesome! They float high and cast/shoot extremely well.

Cons:

  • Noise Level: Due to the texture these lines do have a slight whistle that is noticeable and it does take some getting used to. *Note that the dimpling on the lines does not damage rod guides*

 Honestly I feel that our friends over at Scientific Anglers hit a home run with the Mastery Textured Trout line but don’t take my word for it. I suggest you try it out for yourself. I have a feeling you will be impressed.

Get your hands on the Scientific Anglers Mastery Textured Trout by :  Clicking Here

There Are A Few Things That Really Rattle Me

There are few things that really rattle me.  I have found myself in a standoff against a Yellowstone Black Bear, been bumped by a shark, went headfirst into a sweeper on a raging river.  Part and parcel of the sport I suppose.  All those things happened so fast that I really had no time to be afraid…I just reacted.  While all of those events made for interesting adventures, panic filled memories, and a good story or two, nothing…and I do mean nothing, creeped me out more than an occurrence in The Great Smoky Mountains a couple of weeks ago.

I am standing on the bank, little more than the toes of my boots in the water, roll casting flies into a seam that had trout stacked up in an amazing feeding line.  They moved very little and I could see the yawn of their mouths, food was plentiful and it appeared that they were not being very particular as to what they would eat which was good for me.

I rolled out a tandem rig. Neversink Caddis and below it I had on a Green Weenie.  Without a doubt, these two flies are the top producers for me.  Tons of trout, flies you trust, no one in sight…yep, I was in the zone.  The cast rolled out much better than usual and landed upstream from the aquatic congregation, just far enough for the GW to sink down into the feeding land.  It was a slow motion display in front of me as I watched the fly twirl in the current; the slightest of movement from a willing rainbow, the take…fish on.

He wasn’t particularly large by most standards, maybe ten inches, which is a pretty good size for a mountain bow.  I pulled him away quickly from his friends so that they would miss the fact that one of their kindred had been attacked by a bug puppet and was losing.  I had him maybe ten feet from where I stood, when out of the corner of my eye I saw something move from underneath a rock just to the right of where I stood.  Most of the rock was under water so I quickly determined that it was perhaps a brown trout that I had spooked away from its lie.  Then the line went crazy.  The trout began to struggle in a way that just didn’t seem right…then all I felt was the weight of the fish.

Confused, I reeled in the line, my rod tip dipping with each turn as it pulled against the weight of the fish.  Finally the head of the trout came into view.  Its eyes were stark white; the color you would associate with a wild rainbow had grown ashen.  And, just above its tail, holding for all its worth was a snake; the one common creature in God’s vast zoo that absolutely freaks me out.

The snake was maybe three feet in length with a dark cream colored body with deep rust colored bands which is the coloration of our local low country viper…the copperhead.   This snake had sunk its teeth deep into this trout and would not let go.  The trouble was…I couldn’t let go either…until I cut the leader, which I did with a swiftness that would have impressed Zorro as I pulled my knife from its sheath and with one pass cut through the mono.  It should also be noted that I did not cut until I was absolutely certain that the distance of my hand from the snake was safe.

Having rescued what remained of my leader, I expected to see my Neversink moving across the water to some remote location for this vile serpent to devour its/my catch.  However, in a manner reserved for only slapstick anglers such as myself, I saw that my lovely Neversink was floating inches from my right foot…and two feet beyond that lay the snake and the trout.  Perhaps in a moment of mutual clarity, both the snake and I decided that being exposed on the riverbank was not the best of ideas.  I left for higher ground and he took his lunch elsewhere.

Before swiftly extricating myself from the scene, I managed two photos.  Sadly these pictures turned out much like those of a Bigfoot sighting or perhaps the Zapruder film.  Shaky and dark.  I will leave it to the folks at Fishwest to determine if the evidence captured in a digital format are worthy of print.

It wasn’t until a couple of days later as I relayed the story to a friend that I learned the truth about the snake.  A copperhead it was not.  The fish met its demise at the mouth of a Northern Water Snake, which was no more comforting than being shot with hollow points instead of buckshot.  A snake is a snake and though I was twice his size and outweighed him by a multitude of pounds, he was the clear winner in this one.

 

Chasing Silver - Andy's Return

Chasing Silver – Andy’s Return: Film Review

Chasing Silver: Andy's ReturnIf you have read my previous two reviews, you have read the disclaimers, so I don’t feel the need to keep rewriting it, so reference those to see what does not credential me write film reviews.

I have wanted to fish for tarpon since the first year I started fly fishing seriously but have not found the funds to go on a tarpon trip, but it is on the bucket list.  To me tarpon on the fly would be akin to hunting bears with a switch, the prey has the advantage as verified by Chasing Silver’s Andy Mill, with the statement “22 hook-ups and zero landed last season”.  What would give an angler the desire to keep returning to fish for tarpon after a season like that?  To me it is easy; it is in their blood, once the craving is instilled, it cannot be sated.  I can relate to Andy’s philosophy, if you pull out a stogie, you will catch fish, fisherman and their superstitions, if it is stupid and it works, it isn’t stupid.

The sights that are seen in this movie want me to pack up my truck, sell my hunting stuff and drive to the Keys and buy a flats boat.  I have caught some good fish on a fly rod but these tarpon look like they are the ultimate fish, strong, acrobatic jumps, explosive runs, and they weigh as much as most anglers.  The gill plate clattering jumps, drag melting runs shown in Chasing Silver can instill the impulse to upgrade to a 12 weight outfit.

Although the action in Chasing Silver is off and on, look for the educational aspect on the flies, tides, and light on the water, this could pay dividends prior to a trip to tarpon waters.  Watch the special features selection for some good advice.   I know what flies I will be tying for the next Fishwest sponsored South Andros trip, just in case (last year a 50 pound tarpon was caught the week following our departure).  The photography on this film is enjoyable giving a contrast to the bleak weather outside.

My advice, get Chasing Silver from Fishwest this winter and travel to the Keys, catch some rays and have a good cigar.

I give Chasing Silver four dry flies.

The Gunnison River Gorge

My Fishing Roots

When I was about 9 years old, my family moved to the outer edge of Alexandria, Louisiana. The area was unique in that it was built just before the sub-division era, yet the area was not a part of the old town either. Luckily, for me and my older brother Chuck, there was a nice sized lake just behind our house. All we had to do was cut through the neighbor’s backyard, cross one street, go through another neighbor’s yard and bingo, we were at the lake.

When we moved into our new home, dad forbid us to go to the lake.  We were sternly told, if we were caught at the lake, we would be dealt a serious whipping. Keep in mind, this was in the day of liberal use of a belt or other disciplinarian  instruments. Being typical boys, we couldn’t wait for Dad to go to work so we could check out our new digs at the lake.

From the moment we laid eyes on her clear water and huge bass cruising the shorelines, we were hooked. I lost count of the “ass-whippings” we received as a result of our hard headed defiance. Our love for the lake and fishing was so powerful we could not pull ourselves away, even knowing a serious whipping was a certainty.

Most days, we would fish with the best intentions of being home before dooms hour, that being Dad’s punctual arrival home at 5:30.  By 5:00 our casting became frantic….”gotta catch one more bass.”  At 5:30 sharp, Dads whistle rang through the air with the dread of an air-raid siren.  I would look at Chuck, he would look at me, and we both would say, “Oh crap.”  We quickly gathered our gear and headed home with much trepidation.

Each time, we took our licks like men, knowing full well, tomorrow we would go back. Dad should have seen the light. Hell, there was a clear path beaten through the yards heading off toward the lake.

I can’t remember exactly when dad surrendered.  I think we were about thirteen or fourteen. After one particularly serious “ass-whooping,” I stood tall before my dad and said, “You might as well give us permission to go because we are going anyway.” By then it was obvious I could take the best of what he could dish out and would gladly do so for a good fishing trip….He finally saw the light. He had two incurable anglers for sons ….he relented.

From that day on we fished without worry. We even managed to persuade him to let us night fish and frog hunt on the lake. He quickly became keen on the frog legs as well as an abundant supply of large bream and bass fillets.

We “generally” respected his request to be home before dark. We weren’t disobedient children, we simply could not help ourselves.  We had to fish….it was in our blood and some sixty some odd years later, it still is.

I’ll see you on the water Chuck….I love you brother!

 

Cold Feet, Forsaken Fish and the Morning After…